It’s been common knowledge for a long time in Asia, and word’s getting around in our part of the world as well: eating algae makes sense from both a health and an environmental standpoint. And sushi nori is just the tip of the sea-vegetable iceberg. One variety in particular, wakame, is developing a reputation as a real superfood. This brown kelp variety can grow up to a meter long, with translucent green fronds that unfold when soaked. If you’re interested in experimenting with wakame in your own kitchen, check online retailers (R&S Gourmets, for example) and start stocking your algae pantry!
Wakame flourishes along the coasts of China, Japan, and Korea, where most commercially available wakame is cultivated; it’s harvested fresh between February and June. A wild variety of it is prevalent off the Galician coast as well.
Wakame has a crisp texture and a mild briny flavor reminiscent of the sea. In Japan, you’ll often find it in miso soup, along with tofu. It’s also great as a salad with cucumber and leafy greens.
The wakame-algae can be used in fresh or dried form. If you’re using it fresh, soak it for around ten minutes before adding it to the pot. You can blanch it briefly or simmer it for up to 15 minutes.